Friday, February 20, 2009

Go Fishing

I enjoy fishing. There is nothing like standing by a quiet moving river, or sitting by a calm lake in the early morning. I do not get to go fishing as often as I like, and I am far from an expert angler. In fact, when I go fishing my wife and son always say, “Pizza for supper tonight."

About ten years ago, the three of us took a vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, spending a week on a good fishing lake. We were able to go fishing every day for as long as we wanted to go. It was a very nice secluded area, and the fishing wasn’t bad. While the lake did have Bass and Pike, we were blessed with many pan fish. We enjoyed the fresh fish and the time together.

Late in the week, we were fishing in a small cove far away from any houses. We had caught a few fish, and were watching an eagle on the trees nearby. Suddenly I felt a small tug on my line. I began to reel the line slowly, and it became extremely heavy. Soon the water thrashed and the fight was on. I turned the reel and tugged my pole for what seemed like an hour, although it was only seconds. The fish was coming near the boat, and I asked my wife to get the net to get this monster fish in the boat. I had not caught a fish that fought like this, since I was about ten years old.

My adrenaline was high; my wife watched the water as the fish approached. I called again for the net. Then just as the fish came along side the boat there was a hit to the side of the aluminum boat, a splash followed, and then the struggle stopped. My pole straightened and out of the water came a four inch Perch. The bulging eyes of surprise on the fish nearly matched my own. What had been on that line?

My wife revealed to me that she could see the fish swim away under our boat, and it looked like a four foot Pike to her. I was devastated. To this day it remains a running joke in our home that mom never got the net quick enough to get the big fish into the boat. A typical day of fishing ended later and we had pan fish for dinner. Yet, the one that got away was still fun to try and catch, and the memory will always be with me.

We read in the Bible that after a long night of fishing with little luck Jesus asked Simon to put out and fish again. Simon went out again, listening to this carpenter who was no expert at fishing. Simon and his brother soon had to call their partners to help bring in what was likely the largest haul anyone had ever seen in Galilee. Most men would have wanted to get right to fishing again. However, these men recognized that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus challenged them to change what they were in the fishing business for. He asked them to fish for men.

We as followers of Jesus are still in the fishing business. I have learned from some wonderful people that there are techniques and equipment that do help when you go fishing. We can see from some of these things, how we can use better strategy to reach the souls of men and women in our world too.

  • We need to be in the right place at the right time: in fishing, it may be the right part of a lake or river, or maybe near a nice weed bed or drop off. When trying to reach people it is keeping our eyes open to the changing tides of their lives. We have opportunity to reach people when they are in transition. A new job, a new baby, a move, marriage, or a death in the family often make people open to spiritual things.

  • We need to go where they are: I have not had fish just come to me yet. When you go fishing, you have to pack your gear and go to a lake or river. When you get there, you have to find the place they are biting and go. Only recent stories of the growing Asian Carp in the Illinois River are exception, as they jump out of the water to attack people in their boats. Usually we will have to go to people. People will not just stop by our homes and say, ‘I want to become a Christian.’ We need to be with people in order to have opportunity to save them.

  • Use attractive Bait: In fishing, you have to change your bait depending on many factors. In the spring, you can use hatching larva, but in summer months you may need to use bait that looks like grown bugs. We must realize that our lives are the attraction to people. This is true of the life of a believer, and of the church. In both church body and individual, we must be attractive. It is not likely that you will be able to use the same technique with a seventy-year-old widow that you would with a twenty-year-old college student. Good anglers study the area they are trying to fish, and good witnesses study before inviting people to Jesus.

  • Use the right Equipment: Similar to having bait you need to have good equipment for the fish you are going after. You would not fish for one hundred pound shark on a two-pound fresh water line. When we know we are going into witness to a person who is less open we may want to prepare with some Apologetic resources. We are not going to dump deep theological questions on a young child, but we may if the person has already done some deep research and has questions. Be ready for the challenge you are facing.

  • Close the net: It is vital to close the net or pull the net up at just the right moment. If you move to quick, it will scare a fish away. If you move too slowly, the fish may see you and swim past. In our witness to others there will come a moment when we must ask the question of whether they are saved and whether they want to be in Christ’s family. Do not miss that moment. We must ask the question and close the net at that time, or we will miss the opportunity.

  • Patience and trust in the Holy Spirit: The hardest part of fishing for most people is the wait. Many people in our busy world cannot fish, because it is too stressful on them to remain calm and quiet. This is true of many Christian witnesses too. They cannot wait upon the Lord to tell them when or how to speak. They cannot wait upon the person being ready to accept the Lord. They sometimes push so hard that the person breaks away and runs. We must be patient in the Holy Spirit and move when we feel His calling.

I encourage you to get out and drop your fishing lines for Christ. If you have not had a lot of luck lately, have patience and trust that God will guide you to the right person. Keep your eyes open and sometimes the opportunity will be a surprise right before you. God bless, and happy fishing.
- Keep on the journey with Jesus today.

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